Why should I get my tooth filled?
The mouth is the gateway through which the body receives nourishment via foods and keeps the human body alive and healthy. It is equipped with a formidable mechanism of initial processing of solid foods by chewing and grinding performed by none other than the teeth. Henceforth, teeth play a vital role.
It is the initial step in the digestion process by sending finely chewed and mashed food to the stomach. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to maintain healthy teeth together with good oral hygiene. While healthy, nutritious foods help us to take good oral and dental care, one must remain guarded against some harmful ones to prevent damage to a person’s oral hygiene.
Junk foods, sugary drinks, and those unhealthy snacks teach us the true meaning of taste. Most people, especially children can’t resist gorging on those unhealthy snacks. In a world where most of the youth believe in the tagline that one should live to eat and not eat to live, in their awareness or unawareness, tooth cavities are sneaking into and affecting the oral health of almost all the generations as well as most of the population. That is where a dental filling finds its vitality.
What is a Dental Filling?
The dental filling is a treatment modality to reinstate the missing tooth structure which has resulted due to tooth decay or cavity or any kind of trauma. These problems end up creating a tooth hollow. This gap is treated and filled with the help of a dental filling procedure that protects it from any further damage or decay. A filling is also useful to repair broken or cracked teeth and the teeth that wear off due to bad dental habits like teeth grinding, nail-biting, etc.
How does Dental Filling help?
A dental filling is a form of restorative dental treatment. It is mainly essential to even out the surface of the tooth and improves the jaw function for biting and chewing food. Ample cases are there where many patients with tooth decay suffer simultaneously from tooth sensitivity due to enamel loss. It can also be improved significantly with the placement of a dental filling.
When should you get your tooth filled?
While the risk of tooth decay is less in some people, many are not as lucky and need tooth fillings at a young or middle age in life. Despite maintaining decent oral hygiene habits and trying one’s best to prevent dental cavities, diverse biological and lifestyle factors can render the teeth vulnerable to decay. Cavities cannot repair on their own, so it is necessary to understand the signs which indicate it is time to go for fillings.
An appointment with the dentist is required at the earliest sign that something wrong appears in the mouth. An expert dentist is the one who can tell if someone needs a filling for sure. However, there are a few common symptoms that may serve as indications of developments of a cavity requiring a dental filling. So if any or some of these symptoms are experienced, a qualified dentist must be consulted for a correct diagnosis. Some of those signs and symptoms may be as follows:
- Tooth pain when biting or chewing solid and relatively harder foods.
- Throbbing or sharp pain in a section of a tooth.
- Experiencing tooth sensitivity when a particular tooth is exposed to hot, cold, sweet, sticky, or sour foods.
- A hole or dark spot is felt on the tooth which can be felt with the tongue.
- A fractured or chipped tooth.
- Shredding of floss every time a tooth is flossed.
- A rough tooth compared to others.
- Catching of foods between particular teeth while eating.
These are some indications of tooth decay or cavities but it is worthwhile to note that even if someone does not notice any of the abovementioned symptoms, there are still possibilities of small developing cavities. It is essential to arrest those cavities in order to nip them in the bud because if these cavities are not treated in the beginning they can turn serious and subsequently grow to become even bigger dental issues.
Cavities are often surreptitious, escaping the attention and making patients unaware of having a cavity at all until it reaches the dentin layer of a tooth and starts giving trouble. Dentin is made up of tiny nerve endings and patients usually feel pain and sensitivity only when the progressing decay touches this point.
The Dental Filling procedure
- The first and foremost step is to identify the affected teeth and their problem in order to plan the right course of treatment required for the patient. A dental filling is best applicable for trivial fractures and decay, but for more severe cases, the patient may be required to go for other types of restorative dental treatments, such as a dental crown or implant.
- The next step is followed by a comprehensive examination. It can be done with the help of a dental probe and caries detecting liquid to scrutinise troublesome areas. Sometimes an X-ray is done to ascertain more accurate information regarding the location and gravity of the decay.
- After examining the severity of the decay, local anaesthesia is used to numb the peripheral area around and the gum attached to the affected tooth, which contributes to the comfort of the patient throughout the procedure.
- After that preparation for the restoration of the affected or decayed tooth and its surrounding areas is made. A laser or a dental hand-piece might be used to eliminate the damaged parts of the tooth. After the removal, an acid gel is used to cleanse the area from any kind of remaining bacteria or debris.
- Finally, the filling material is applied to the area to fill the cavity. The type of filling varies from person to person depending upon their individual cases.
- The placing of a composite filling needs to isolate the damaged tooth; this aims to prevent any interference by allowing moisture in the bonding process and the composite restoration process. Various adhesives are placed before the composite material for this reason. The composite material can then be hardened with the use of a special bonding light.
- The finishing touch is to polish the tooth in order to conclude the dental filling procedure.
What can be the consequences for not getting a Dental Filling done on time?
When a cavity or decay starts damaging your tooth, it eventually destroys your enamel which is an irreversible process. Enamel is the thin outer protective covering of the teeth; this tough mineral is the hardest substance in the entire human body. And enamel decay leads to the exposure of the dentin, which is the hard part below the enamel. The bacteria that dwell inside your mouth will come in contact with the exposed dentin which can cause oral infection.
This infection leads to tooth sensitivity that you would experience while eating or drinking any hot, cold, sour or sweet foods. You should consider this to be the latest time to get your filling done. If ignored, the infection will reach the nerve which will eventually damage the tooth and then a filling would be of no use, instead, you may require opting for root-canal treatment. If left untreated, it also makes the tooth adjacent to the infected tooth vulnerable to infection or decay.
Different Types of Dental Filling
There are several types of dental fillings. Depending upon the infection and condition of damage of the tooth, or other factors like the patient having an allergy to a certain material, various types of filling are being used. The different types of filling available are jotted down as below:
This is an old concept but long-lasting. Silver or gold is used for filling, gold being the most preferred choice despite being expensive, as it can withstand chewing forces and can last for 15 years.
These are the most researched and high-strength fillings. These are also the most commonly used fillings by dentists. They are made of several metals combined which is why it is strong and durable.
Having the colour similar to one’s teeth, it is preferred by those who do not want their filling to be seen. It is mainly recommended for front teeth. However, it is not as long-lasting as a metal or amalgam filling and tends to wear off with time.
Porcelain / Ceramic Filling
The porcelain filling is best suited for people who have serious aesthetic concerns. These cover most parts of the tooth, as a result, can be used in case of huge decay. This long-lasting filling does not stain or wear off easily.
The Bottom line
Tooth decay normally spreads quickly which is why it’s essential to visit a qualified and expert dentist periodically or at least twice a year before the cavity progresses or infection develops. In a routine dental check-up, a dentist can find out if a cavity has formed and sometimes even before symptoms occur. The dentist then draws out a prevention plan of the progress of the decay and even arranges to fill small cavities to avoid a tooth extraction or a root canal treatment later.